Collections at the Danish American Center

Nyhavn.jpg20th Century painting of Nyhavn (Copenhagen, Denmark)

The Danish American Center has three areas of collections: the art and design collection of objects, the heritage archive collection of documents and photographs and a library of Danish and English language books on Danish subjects. The art and design collection consists of several hundred paintings, sculptures and textiles by Danes and Danish American artists. The heritage archive collection consists of photographs and original documents that tell the story of our organization and the Danish American community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Items have been donated to the DAC and its precursor organizations since the early 1900s.

The art collection of drawings, prints and paintings and posters can be found hanging on the walls of every space in the building. Design objects and Danish porcelain are integrated into the décor of the living room and other spaces reflecting collecting tastes from the early 1900s to today. Paintings by Danish and Danish American artists include realistic landscapes and seascapes, modern abstract works and paintings by self-taught amateurs. We have a small collection of textiles and Danish Folk costumes that rotate on display. Notable recent donations include a complete set of Danish Folk Costume prints, “Dansk Nationaldragter” by Fredrik Christian Lund and a tin advertising sign for “Thingvalla, Scandinavian Lines – Ocean Liner Fredrik VIII.” In addition, we have an art gallery on the first floor with changing exhibitions.

The Heritage archive of the Danish American Center documents the social history of the Danish community in the Twin Cities from early immigration to present day. We have collected photographs, printed documents including news clippings, albums, and oral histories. The documents illustrate the story of the Danish community by noting music, theater, dance, foodways, general cultural activities, visits by Danish Royals and the merging of Danish social organizations through time. Subjects include Dania Hall at the turn of the 19th century to Young People’s Homes in the early twentieth century to the Danish American Fellowship and now the Danish American Center in the 21st century. We also have early Danish Bibles and an atlas. Many of these documents have been illustrated on story boards and displayed in the Heritage Gallery. We are now digitizing our records, so many more are accessible, and they may be easily used by researchers or by our community.  

mary-bardenfleth.jpgFounding Danebo volunteer and teacher, Mary Bardenfleth and family, 1924.

Library holdings include Danish literature, reference books, cookbooks, and children’s books. The library is now open to members on the first Saturday of each month from 10 AM to Noon or by appointment.

We have just begun to digitize our original photographs and ephemera with a grant from the MnDigital Library for inclusion in the MnDigital Library website. With a grant from the the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society we are cataloging our art and design objects, photographs and documents in a collection management system. This allows us to better care for our collections and make them available to the public through partnership with, a project of the Minnesota Alliance for Local History Museums.  

dac-library-1800x1200.jpgDanish American Center Library

This project was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.